By EJIOFOR HEDGES ADUEBE
I had read the most recent interview granted The Sun Newspapers by Senator Chris Ngige with amazement. At first, it was amusing to me, given the level of factual distortions contained therein. Most of these facts are not far-fetched, hence my surprise. They are still as fresh and clear as daytime. I had initially chosen not to comment on such blatant lies on principle. However, my desire to speak out was in conflict with my principle and it was a war my desire was winning. Evil thrives when men fail to speak out.
Inter alias, Senator Ngige claimed no government in Anambra State from inception has attained or surpassed his achievements as governor. He also claimed that his decision to participate in the upcoming governorship election in the state is premised on numerous pleas from Anambrarians, who genuflect to him. He severally referred to Governor Peter Obi as playing god and sarcastically called politicians from Anambra north “gladiators.” Funny, Chris, I must confess. Ngige, like most Anambrarians has the right to vie for any political office in the state provided he meets the constitutional criteria for qualification.
Much as I certainly uphold Ngige’s right to contest, he must play by the rule and not indulge in blackmail, deception and cheap propaganda. It is a game reserved for political bigots unless Ngige is telling us he is one. I recently had an argument with a friend who was of the view that law training is a good basis for all professions. Agreed, but it has been argued as well that law practice as we know makes bastard out of good men.
Yet, this is a child’s play compared to what politics is making out of our good men. I am still struggling to find an appropriate adjective to qualify politicians, especially Nigerian brands. Integrity is absolute. It is either you have it or not. No half measure. I wonder if any Nigerian politician has the word integrity in his or her vocabulary. For Senator Ngige to have chosen to stand the truth on its head, as was blatantly displayed in that interview, confirms he is not different from our brand of politicians. He has certainly taken liberty for licence, hence I consider it pertinent to remind him that a butterfly can never metamorphose into a bird.
I will rather say Senator Ngige is indeed, playing god. His arrogance and supercilious posture gives the impression that he has the prerogative of deciding who succeeds Gov. Obi. This is indeed funny. Today, people hardly speak out the truth unless they benefit or stand to benefit from it. I have never met Peter Obi in person. He has not executed any tangible project in my home town, Awkuzu. His resentment of my town perhaps, was because we massively voted for Ngige during the last governorship election.
This, notwithstanding, the truth must not only be told but also be seen to have been told for posterity. Much as I am not a politician or a proponent of Governor Peter Obi, his achievement and his prudence in managing Anambra resources is conspicuously obvious to all. To say otherwise is both incongruous and preposterous. I stand to be contradicted.
The history of Anambra State, on the other hand, will be incomplete without a mention of Ngige. Aside his performance, God used him to end the politics of god-fatherism, which hitherto had held the state down. Anybody who witnessed the era of Chinwoke Mbadinuju will attest to this. Mbadinuju virtually failed in all areas and is today politically spent. Ngige deserves some credit as ex-governor, no doubt, but this much talked about performance was only in the area of road construction. Other sectors were totally neglected.
His proponents may ague that his time was short and that had he been given more time, he would have turned the state into Dubai. Much as this sounds persuasive and even plausible, it is however, devoid of any sound logic. Nobody is ever assessed on what he would have done if he had been giving a chance. Besides, I would be shocked if Ngige did not see his end as governor coming. Any house built on false foundation will not stand the test of time. It is a fact, which is not far-fetched or fanciful, that he deliberately walked himself between the devil and the deep sea. He was not new to Nigerian politics of god-fatherism. By entering into that political concord with the charlatans from the Uba family, he consciously sat himself on a live volcano.
When eventually it exploded under him, he pitched his tent with the masses. His fallout with Chris Uba, coupled with his desire to remain relevant at all cost precipitated the little show he put up during his brief stay. The circumstances of his coming does not smack of a person of integrity. It must be made mention of that Ngige did not fall out with the Uba brothers on morale grounds. He was prepared to play by their rule, except that they wanted to take all. Ngige remonstrated and that led to him being kidnapped.
Olusegun Obasanjo openly stated that Ngige and the Ubas confessed before him that they rigged election in Anambra State. Ngige is yet to deny this allegation. Having fallen out with his godfather, it then became imperative to him that the only way he could stay afloat was to pitch tent with the masses. It was a well calculated move, which paid off handsomely. Aside my friendship with Ngige, I was his staunch supporter during his trial days.
God caused disaffection between him and his former friends, thus setting us free from Egypt. I authored several articles in support of Ngige among which was ‘The dirty game in Anambra State’ published by The New Age in 2005 and reproduced by most major newspapers, including Vanguard, hence neither Ngige nor anybody else for that matter could claim all credits to what happened. His disagreement with the Shenanigans over their unscrupulous intentions was a master piece of God’s timely intervention on behalf of Anambrarians.
The road he constructed in my home town, Awkuzu, does not have any drainage, contrary to his claim. Perhaps, he was on holiday then, hence he was unable to supervise the job, as he claimed to have always done; but even at that, why did he not inspect it upon resumption.
My candid advice is that Ngige must cease from this propaganda war and re-strategise. Trying to denigrate Gov. Obi over his obvious achievements in order to achieve his inordinate ambition will do him more harm than good. This attitude presents him as a mere contrarians, who is simply desperate. It is tantamount to initiating a battle that will consume him.
The word “gladiators” from Anamabra North is not positive. I am from Anambra North but I am certainly not a fan for zoning. I belong to the school of thought that places meritocracy over mediocrity. Political success must not be based on one’s circumstances of birth, contact or pecuniary status. He who the cap fits most must be allowed to wear the cap. If we collectively uphold this principle, Ngige will certainly not come any where near the seat of power in Anambra State again. In a decent society, the like of Ngige, Chris and Nnamdi (Andy) Uba will be either cooling their heels in jail or declared persona non-grata.
Unless my senatorial zone, in his calculation, does not constitute part of Anambra State, I will like to remind Ngige here that he did not consult nor did we directly or indirectly lobby or indulge in any form of propitiation to convince him to contest. He should get off his high horse of egocentrism. I see in him a desperate man. His desperation manifested itself by his recent alliance with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), owned by people who have not hidden their hatred for us. By this alliance, history is about to repeat itself, only that this time, we will never allow it happen.
To him, it does not matter whether or not the policy of his masters are inconsistent with the aspirations of his people. What matters is his ambition and how to actualise it. If by so doing Anambra State and by extension the entire Eastern region is “captured” by CAN, as Bola Tinubu has boasted, it is no skin off his nose. His recent stance on the current saga over the deportation of Igbo from Lagos by ACN government confirms what to expect from the alliance with his newly found masters.
• Aduebe writes from Australia: firstname.lastname@example.org